Tested: Trek Remedy 9.8 27.5

It’s all about the new RE:aktiv Thru-Shaft…

Found on the Remedy, Fuel EX and Slash is a new shock design; RE:aktiv Thru-Shaft. Long story short, by replacing the classic internal floating piston design with a thru-shaft design, there are claims of reduced friction in the whole system.

The 2018 Remedy scores a new shock with some interesting tech.

RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft is the latest development from the brand’s partnership with Penske Racing Shocks with ties to Formula One Racing, while not unseen in the suspension world before it’s new to mountain bikes. The Thru Shaft tech is available on higher end Trek trail bikes, including Slash 9.8, Slash 9.7, Remedy 9.8, Remedy 9.8 Women’s, Fuel EX 9.9.

The shock has a unique shape, with a mini piggyback reservoir on top.
A closer look at the shock’s architecture, removed from the bike.
The shock uncompressed.
And compressed with the internal shaft breaking out into the light of day.

Want to know more, perhaps a moving image will help explain all the mumbu-jumbo? For the full story, video and technical details on the new shock, dive in deeper right here – All the details.


How does the Thru-Shaft change things on the trail?

We’ve always found the Trek suspension bikes – Fuel EX, Slash, Remedy etc – to be supple and very active in the rear suspension department, but add in the new shock design and that buttery smooth suspension takes one more slide across the dancefloor in your socks, like leaving the honey jar in the sun and now everything is a little bit smoother.

It’s most noticeable when you switch the shock into open mode and push down on the saddle with short and fast frequency, the shock compresses and rebounds with a delightfully light action. Even after a few solid rides, the shock felt smoother to push on than a blown coil shock in a 2003 Orange 222.

How many times can we say the word ‘smooth’ in this review?

On the trail, we forgot all about the shock tech and it all just blended in to make the Remedy feel very planted and grippy, with the supple suspension and generous traction the whole bike confidently glues to the ground where many others would skip about and feel nervous.

With the shock being so supple it pays to make the most of the three-stage compression adjustments on the shock or the bike feels a little slow to jump forward when you crank on the pedals. But in comparison to our Norco Sight long-term test bike (admittedly it’s only 130mm of travel) which uses a regular RockShox Deluxe shock, the middle mode feels far less sensitive than this one. We also found the shock to be still quite responsive when set in the middle mode, we could push off the rear suspension more with less wallow, but it would still react to small bumps, it made for a great setting for technical climbs with so much traction.


Trail time thoughts.

The Remedy doesn’t muck around when the trails turn nasty, with a huge amount of grip from the excellent tyres and supple suspension it is a total blast to throw into the corners and rip around them; our favourite thing to do on the Remedy was to cut inside on flat turns and drift out to the other side. We gained a lot of confidence in the way the Remedy would rip corners hard, and keep the rubber side down.

Good times exploring blind trails on the Remedy, not afraid of much.

Trek has the bigger Slash for the serious enduro race crowd, so the Remedy can afford to forgo that mini-downhill bike character of many modern bikes and retain ample agility.


Why roll on 27.5″ wheel when Fuel EX and Slash are 29″?

Do you sense a wheel size debate coming on, too? Don’t run off, just yet.

We’ve spent plenty of time on Treks on either side of the Remedy that use 29″ wheels; the 130mm travel Trek Fuel EX, and the monster-truckin 160mm travel Trek Slash. So we had to ask ourselves why did Trek decide to stick with the smaller wheel for the Remedy?

Well, while bike brands are becoming increasingly better at making the most out of 29″ wheels with fewer drawbacks, you simply can’t look past a 27.5″ wheel when it comes to throwing it around for the fun of it, and that’s precisely what the Remedy is great at. Whenever we jumped on board this thing, our attitude lightened, we darted around the place like a hyperactive kid on a double espresso Gu Gel. It reminded us of the time we reviewed the Whyte T-130, which we thought would have been a style of the bike better suited to a 29er, but damn did we enjoy the smaller wheels!


The weight, price, parts and what we’d change.

13.1kg is fair for this spec level, the bike’s not built for cross country racing, so this figure means that the frame and parts are pretty reasonable on the scales. Some weight could be saved with a lower tread rear tyre if your trails don’t require such chunky treads, other than that any weight savings would be big ticket items like the cranks, cassette, rims etc.

We think Trek is traditionally pretty fair with their pricing of their mid-high range carbon suspension bikes, and this Remedy is a good representation of that. Thanks to the trickle-down of great technology like the SRAM Eagle drivetrain to this price point gives the spec massive appeal; it works so damn well.

The 150mm travel RockShox Lyrik leads the way with absolute confidence.

All the Bontrager parts are so dialled, each year they prove to be a legitimate component brand holding their own amongst the best boutique options out there. The wheels, dropper post, tyres, cockpit etc. are great and give the Remedy an aesthetically stylish appearance with everything matching so well.

Even in its highest setting, the MRP guide still rubbed on the chain when pedalling the low range gears.

The little MRP guide is a nice addition, but in the lower range gears the chain rubs on the underside of the guide, we’d seek out a different size guide or just ditch it.

The bike doesn’t come specced with tubeless valves or sealant, so don’t leave the shop without adding them.


So many bikes, who is the Remedy for, and does the shock live up to the hype?

The Remedy has massive appeal for a rider that pushes hard and has the skills to turn the trails into a playground. Or if you’re after a fast and confident bike to make light work out of loose, steep, choppy and tight terrain.

And the shock? Well, like we said earlier, the Remedy has always felt really smooth and supple so unless you had a direct comparison to a regular shock, the Thru Shaft shock won’t blow you away with a huge difference in feeling. But we can feel it, and it just contributes to an already great feeling bike.

To see more of the Remedy range, head over to the Trek site here: Trek Remedy, please!

Flow’s First Bite: 2018 Trek Remedy 9.8

When we first saw news from Trek around this new Thru Shaft we had next to no idea what they were banging on about, what is a Thru Shaft and what does it do? We had to see a moving image of the shock for us to grasp the concept,

For the full story, video and technical details on the new shock, dive in deeper right here – All the details.

The new shock doesn’t look very different, but when compressed you’ll see the shaft exiting the lower end of the shock, and back in again as it rebounds.

Long story short, by replacing the classic internal floating piston design with a thru-shaft design, there is claims of reduced friction in the whole system. RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft is the latest development from the brand’s partnership with Penske Racing Shocks, while not unseen in the suspension world before it’s new to mountain bikes.

RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft is available on select Trek trail bikes, including Slash 9.8, Slash 9.7, Remedy 9.8, Remedy 9.8 Women’s, Fuel EX 9.9.


Enough about the shock, what else is new for 2018?

Plenty to get excited about with the new Remedy 9.8, especially as we had the 2016 model on long term test, and got to know it intimately. The 2018 model is even burlier with its spec and uses more SRAM across the board. The new model has also dropped in price, down $300 to $6499, that’s a bonus for sure.

Read more about the frame’s features like their massive down tube, Knock Block headset and more in our 2017 Remedy review here.

While the frame remains the same, spec highlights for us, include the shift from a Shimano XT drivetrain with a double chainring to a SRAM Eagle GX 12-speed single-ring drivetrain, though we’d traditionally prefer Shimano XT brakes over the Guide RS. The fork jumps from a RockShox Pike up to the Lyrik which uses a more robust chassis and feels more like a single crown downhill fork than a trail bike fork, a super impressive fork indeed.

SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, our first proper ride on the budget 12-speed kit.
RockShox Lyrik, move over, we’re coming through!
SRAM cranks with a little MRP chain guide, interesting!

Other highlights include seriously meaty tyres from Bontrager on their new Line wheels, and the 35mm clamp bar and stem for even more of an aggressive appearance up the front.

Full review to follow shortly, it’s time to shred this thing!

Flow’s First Bite: 2018 Trek Remedy 9.8 with new RE:aktiv Thru Shaft damper

When we first saw news from Trek around this new Thru Shaft we had next to no idea what they were banging on about, what is a Thru Shaft and what does it do? We had to see a moving image of the shock for us to grasp the concept,

For the full story, video and technical details on the new shock, dive in deeper right here – All the details.

The new shock doesn’t look very different, but when compressed you’ll see the shaft exiting the lower end of the shock, and back in again as it rebounds.

Long story short, by replacing the classic internal floating piston design with a thru-shaft design, there is claims of reduced friction in the whole system. RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft is the latest development from the brand’s partnership with Penske Racing Shocks, while not unseen in the suspension world before it’s new to mountain bikes.

RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft is available on select Trek trail bikes, including Slash 9.8, Slash 9.7, Remedy 9.8, Remedy 9.8 Women’s, Fuel EX 9.9.


Enough about the shock, what else is new for 2018?

Plenty to get excited about with the new Remedy 9.8, especially as we had the 2016 model on long term test, and got to know it intimately. The 2018 model is even burlier with its spec and uses more SRAM across the board. The new model has also dropped in price, down $300 to $6499, that’s a bonus for sure.

Read more about the frame’s features like their massive down tube, Knock Block headset and more in our 2017 Remedy review here.

While the frame remains the same, spec highlights for us, include the shift from a Shimano XT drivetrain with a double chainring to a SRAM Eagle GX 12-speed single-ring drivetrain, though we’d traditionally prefer Shimano XT brakes over the Guide RS. The fork jumps from a RockShox Pike up to the Lyrik which uses a more robust chassis and feels more like a single crown downhill fork than a trail bike fork, a super impressive fork indeed.

SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, our first proper ride on the budget 12-speed kit.
RockShox Lyrik, move over, we’re coming through!
SRAM cranks with a little MRP chain guide, interesting!

Other highlights include seriously meaty tyres from Bontrager on their new Line wheels, and the 35mm clamp bar and stem for even more of an aggressive appearance up the front.

Full review to follow shortly, it’s time to shred this thing!

Trek’s New RE:aktiv Thru Shaft Shock

Trek has unveiled RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft, an all-new suspension design that improves response time and efficiency. RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft is the latest development from the brand’s partnership with Penske Racing Shocks, the global leader in custom motorsport suspension design, which began in 2014 to push bicycle suspension capabilities. The first collaboration resulted in RE:aktiv—a mountain bike suspension technology that responded to changes in terrain faster than any other shock on the market.

For RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft, Trek’s R & D team bucked the suspension status quo and developed a superior new design from the ground up. RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft eliminates the internal floating piston (IFP) that compensates for oil displacement in traditional dampers and the associated lag along with it.

As the IFP moves in a traditional damper, its seal causes a stick/slip effect that reduces responsiveness. RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft uses a damper rod that runs the entire length of the shock, eliminating oil displacement and the associated stick/slip effect caused by the seal necessary in a traditional damper.

The bottom line: the new design eliminates the need for an internal floating piston, the primary cause of lag. It provides unprecedented responsiveness—even when inputs occur in quick succession, as often happens while charging through short sections of trail littered with rocks and roots.

With extra-firm low-speed compression damping; supple and controlled high-speed compression damping; and a seamless transition between the two, RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft improves the all-terrain responsiveness that is RE:aktiv’s calling card. It responds to every input on the trail, delivering a seamless trail experience even as riders push their limits on technical terrain.

RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft is available on select Trek trail bikes, including Slash 9.8, Slash 9.7, Remedy 9.8, Remedy 9.8 Women’s, Fuel EX 9.9, and their respective carbon frameset options. These models can be viewed at trekbikes.com

Tested: Trek Fuel EX 9.8

Trek’s Fuel EX series went under a serious refresh for the 2017 season, growing in every aspect. Longer travel, longer reach, slacker geometry, more everything. It’s about as modern as they come, and a step in the right direction to keep up with the progression of mountain biking.

My tubes are bigger than yours.

Who’s it for?

The Fuel EX is aimed squarely at the all-round trail rider, one step up from the cross country Top Fuel, and one step down the spectrum from the Remedy. There’s 130mm of travel, 29” wheels a dropper post, wide rims, and space for a full-sized water bottle.

The classic trail bike, not too big, not too small, just right.

We weighed our 19.5” size Fuel EX at 12.74kg with no pedals and set up tubeless. That’s very competitive considering its chunky appearance!


Trek’s unique features.

Trek are known for breaking the mould and doing things their way, hence their own suspension technology inside the rear shock, custom fork offset G2 geometry and a special headset that prevents the bars and fork crowns from spinning all the way around and damaging the frame.

Instead of trying to keep the frame away from the rotating fork and handlebar, the headset stops it spinning too far instead. Additional hard rubber protection under the front end prevents the fork crowns impacting the frame.

If you’re curious to experiment, you can flip a little chip in the linkage to tweak the frame geometry slightly, we had our set in the ‘slack and low’ setting but would certainly consider trying the other setting if planning a longer ride with loads of climbing, or entering a multi-day race.

Flip the little chip to tweak the bike’s geometry, nice and simple.

Got any blacker?

2017 is the year of the black bike, and this one is about as black as it comes. If it weren’t for the blue lockout lever on the fork and the red sticker on the shock, there would be no colour at all! The matte/gloss finish is elegant, super high quality, and flawless up close. Though during some wet rides our baggy shorts left super-fine scratching on the glossy section of the top tube, maybe not the best part of the frame to be glossy?


How did it ride?

For a just 130mm travel 29er, it feels pretty burly, it packs a punch but hides it really well. The frame is long, bars are wide, and the chunky frame tubes add to the whole feeling that it wants to be ridden hard. Cruising through the singletrack it steers really well through the turns, never requiring you to persuade it into any situations with a heavy hand. It’s one of the lightest handling 29ers we’ve ridden too, the geometry feels spot on, not nervous or sluggish at all.

Get it up to speed and the Fuel’s long front end and relaxed angles had us feeling very confident to let the brakes off and ride it hard. Pushing it into the rough descents, there were plenty of moments where the Fuel surprised us of its straight-line ploughing abilities!

The double chainring took the shine off our confidence to crank hard on the pedals through rough trails, there’s always the thought that the chain may not be 100% engaged, but we’ll come back to the double debate later.

Point it where you want to go, the Fuel’s steering precision and light handling is a real standout.

We hate seeing bikes still coming specced with narrow rims, another reason to appreciate the Fuel, the Bontrager Line Comp 30 wheels with wide rims give the Bontrager XR3 tyres a whole lot of volume and in turn, the bike feels very sure-footed and composed.


The suspension.

We found the rear suspension outshone the fork in a way, the FOX 34 with the Grip Damper felt smooth and supple across clattery surfaces, especially while seated in the saddle pedaling along. But when you’re out of the saddle and leaning on the front end it required a few extra clicks of the big blue dial which would detract from the forks sensitivity.

FOX Grip Damper forks, smooth and easy to adjust, but not as supportive as the FIT 4 Damper forks found on higher price point bikes.
An aluminium chain stay doubles at the lower mount for the shock.
The rear suspension absorbs heavy impacts so well.

Standout parts.

Trek’s own component line Bontrager handles the majority of the parts, and very well too. The tyres are great, fast and tacky, with the wide rims we ran quite low pressures and found loads of grip and cushion as a result. We always like the Evoke saddle, and the carbon bar is a nice touch.

Shimano XT brakes are phenomenal as always, certainly big fans here at Flow. The Bontrager Line Dropper post works well but lacks the sophisticated feel at the lever, and in our experience requires regular maintenance during the wet season.


Double chainring, yay, or nay?

A double chainring is not for us, we can appreciate why a trail bike comes with 22 gears, but once you go single ring, it’s too hard to go back. It’s a lot noisier, adds clutter and weight for only a small increase in gear range. Shimano does have some work to do to match the fantastic SRAM Eagle drivetrain which offers a huge range with only one chainring, and even the Shimano 11-46 cassette would be a preferable option for us in this instance.

Double chainring, not for us, thanks.

Thankfully the upcoming 2018 models of the Fuel looks to have specced more single ring drivetrains.


Final thoughts.

A trail bike from Trek was always going to be a sure bet, they’ve been refining the Fuel range over many years now, and were one of the first brands to make bikes ride well with the larger 29″ wheels. The latest Fuel is a competent bike in the rough and still nice and efficient to pedal all day.

Ditch the double-ring in favour of the Shimano XT 11-46 cassette if you’re like us and appreciate a quieter and smoother drivetrain, but other than that, this thing is good to go.

For more information head to Trek’s website by clicking here.

Trek 2017: Range Highlights

With a visit to Trek World we were greeted with hordes of amazing new bikes, it’s a big year for Trek with the new Fuel EX, Remedy and Slash. We appreciate where Trek are headed for 2017, simplifying the wheel sizes down to one per model. Check out what caught our fancy from the new range.

All the 2017 bikes are now up on Trek’s site here: www.trekbikes.com


Trek Fuel EX

The Fuel EX is a real winner for Trek, nailing that middle category of ‘trail rider’ and the 2017 model scores a massive overhaul with a whole host of new frame designs. The new Fuel is 29er only, gone is the 27.5″ option, the only exception to this rule is to be found in the WSD (Women’s Specific Design) models of the Fuel, which have a 27.5-specific frameset in 14″ and 15.5″ frame sizes.

The Fuel range is massive, starting at an impressive $2999 there are eight models available in carbon and aluminium, including two women’s versions. Topping out at the Fuel EX 9.9 29 with SRAM Eagle and a full carbon frame for $9999 it’s clear that the Fuel is a solid model for Trek Australia.

Trek's James Collins is frothing for his new 29er Fuel EX, his height and strong style suits the stiffer frame with 29" wheels.
Trek’s James Collins is frothing for his new 29er Fuel EX, the stiffer frame and grippy 29″ wheels are a match made in heaven.

For 2017 the Fuel goes up to 130mm travel front and back, frame geometry is more aggressive and the frame is a whole lot stiffer.

We were fortunate to attend the official launch of the 2017 Fuel EX, Remedy and Slash in Canada, for the story on the new bikes in greater detail head to our launch feature here: TREK’S ALL-NEW REMEDY AND FUEL EX.

Trek Fuel EX 9.8_LOW7342
2017 Trek Fuel EX 9.8 29 – $6299.
Trek Fuel EX 9.8_LOW7350
Adjustable geometry via the Mino Link reversible chip insert, nifty.
The chart topping Fuel EX 9.9, $9999. Lots of nines.
Fuel EX 9, killer value in our opinion.
Fuel EX 9, decent value in our opinion for $5199.

Project One Now

To make the new Fuel even more appealing, The Fuel EX 9.8 is a part of the Project One Now, for an extra $750 you have an extra three colour options to choose from. It’s essentially a trimmed down version of the highly customisable Project One scheme Trek offer for key models – with Project One Now it’s just the colour you can select, not spec changes. It’s usually around $1500 for a colour option in Project One, so Project One Now is a more affordable way for a little bit of unique individuality in a sweet bike.

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Our favourite, neon pink and yellow on a matte black base, seriously bold and hot!

For more on the Project One custom, click here.


Trek Remedy

A long time favourite at Flow the Remedy scores a big facelift too, stepping up in travel, stiffness and receiving an updated frame geometry for a more gravity/enduro spirit.

The four-strong lineup of Remedy models available in Australia begins at $3699 for the aluminium version and tops out at the Remedy 9.8 for $6799.

New for 2017 the Remedy is 27.5″ only, no more 29″ model. Travel bumps up to 150mm of travel and they all use RockShox rear shocks, and like the Fuel EX the frame is stiffer and geometry more aggressive.

For the full rundown on the changes to the 2017 Remedy, click through to our in-depth launch piece here: 2017 Trek Remedy.

Trek Remedy 9.8,
Trek Remedy 9.8, $6799.
New for 2017, RockShox rear shock wit Trek's Re:Aktiv damper inside.
New for 2017, RockShox Deluxe rear shock with Trek’s Re:Aktiv damper inside.
Tipping the playful Remedy into a turn.
Tipping the playful Remedy with meaty 27.5″ Bontrager tyres into a turn.

We took the 9.8 for a quick lap of Stromlo, hear are our thoughts after the ride: Quick Ride Review – Remedy 9.8

The Remedy 9 Race Shop Limited in glossy red (below) looks like a real winner. An aluminium frame keeps the price down, but the spec is excellent, RockShock Lyrik, SRAM X1 drivetrain and Bontrager 30mm wide rims. One to keep an eye out for sure.

Remedy 9 Race Shop Limited, $5399.
Remedy 9 Race Shop Limited, $5399.

Trek Slash 29

Bikes don’t get any more badass than this. The new 2017 Slash 29 is a monster of a bike, with 29″ wheels wrapped in chunky rubber and Bontrager’s new 35mm clamp bar and stem.

Slash your type of bike? Don’t miss all the details in our 2017 Slash launch post here: 2017 Slash 29.

In contrast to the trend towards 27.5″ wheels in the Enduro category, Trek have opted to go for big hoops on this monster. Why? Well the Slash is designed as an Enduro race bike, and Trek feel that for the job of winning races, a 29er is the best format. They didn’t go into this decision blindly, we might add. Over the past few years Trek have had two of the most successful Enduro racers on the planet on their EWS team (Leov and Moseley) both of whom opted for the Remedy 29er, not the 27.5 Slash or Remedy 27.5.

There are two models of the Slash 29 coming to our shores, the 9.9 in glossy red with SRAM Eagle and burly FOX X2 rear shock and 36 fork, $8999. And the 9.8 below is quite reasonable for $6999 with RockShox bits and SRAM X1 drivetrain.

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The killer value Slash 29 9.8 for $6999, black as.
RockShox Deluxe trunnion mount rear shock.
RockShox Deluxe trunnion mount rear shock.

Stache

Now this thing is a bit of an oddity, but makes so much sense – Plus size bike built around 29″ wheels with 3″ wide tyres. We’ve had loads of experience with 27.5+ bikes from all sorts of brands, hardtails and dual suspension, but we’ve only ever ridden one 29+ bike, a Surly Krampus. While it was a cool concept that offered huge stability, it was just too big and long to consider for the type of mountain biking we enjoy.

We chatted with Travis Brown about the concept behind the Stache, why it’s a 29er and how they arrived at a final product with such a short rear end. Have a look at our chat with a legend here: Chatting with the legend – Travis Brown.

Trek have gone with 29″ over 27.5″ in a plus size as they believe if you’re going to want benefits of the big tyres, why not go all out and have the benefits of bigger diameter wheels too? But with 29″ wheels you run into a lot of issues with frame geometry, trying to fit it all in with a bike that doesn’t blow out to having a massive wheelbase was a challenge that Trek managed to overcome. The elevated chainstays allow the rear wheel to be brought closer to the bike’s centre, take a look at the overlap between the rear tyre and the chainring, like nothing we’ve seen before.

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Travis Brown on the Stache, he’s mad for it.

The adjustable stays also meant this bike can be converted to a single speed and can accomodate a wide variety of wheel sizes too, it’s a freaky wonder of a bike and we like it.

The Stache will come to Australia in three variants, starting at $2399 for the rigid version, $3299 for the green one below and $4499 for the slick carbon number.

We took the mid range Stache 7 for a quick blast around Stromlo with US mountain bike legend and hall of fame guru Travis Brown and we relished the huge traction but could not believe how short the bike felt. It’ll take some getting used to that’s for sure, a bike with 29″ wheels and 3″ tyres should simply not feel that agile so when we get one on review we’ll have to re-program our minds somehow. Pop a wheelie and you’ll know what we mean, 420mm chain stays is short for any bike, and you can adjust that down to a remarkable 405mm, crazy stuff.

Trek Stache 9.6
Trek Stache 9.6 with a carbon frame.
Big rubber, 3" tyres on 46mm wide rims. Go anywhere machine.
Big rubber, 3″ tyres on 46mm wide rims. Go anywhere machine.
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No way 29er with 3″ tyres could be short enough without elevated chain stays.
The rear centre can be adjusted between 405 and 420mm. That is seriously short!
The rear centre can be adjusted between 405 and 420mm. That is seriously short!
Stache 7, $3299.
Stache 7, $3299.

Top Fuel

While it does carry over to 2017 unchanged from the current model, we couldn’t keep our eyes off the top level Top Fuel 9.9 RSL. It’s a whopping $11499, and one of picks for the ultimate XC race bike. We took the Top Fuel 9.8 SL for a lap of Stromlo and obviously enjoyed the climb, but also had a blast on the way back down (we’d not hesitate fitting a dropper post to one though, we’re tragics).

There’s nothing quite like hooking through fast singletrack on such a fast handling bike, it’s not for the faint hearted though, unless you’re dead keen on racing we’d suggest the Fuel EX for a more trail friendly bike.

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The Top Fuel 9.9 RSL, a seriously delicious race bike.
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The compact carbon linkage and rear end feels ridiculously light.
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Trek were proud to display five National Champs bikes, that’s so impressive! From XCO, Marathon, Road, Enduro and Ironman.

Quick Ride Review: 2017 Trek Remedy 9.8

Ryan Walsch from Trek gives the stiffer and longer Remedy a good old shove trough a bermed turn.
Ryan Walsch from Trek gives the stiffer and longer Remedy 9.8 a good old shove trough a bermed turn.
Trek Remedy 9.8_LOW7339
One our favourite bikes that we took all over the country this year is all-new again, the 2017 model is bigger and burlier.

The frame

For 2017 suspension bumps up to 150mm of travel and slackens off the head angle, now adjustable between 66.5 and 66-degrees. Reach has been pushed out quite a lot as well, by 11mm on a size 19″ (large) frame, and short 50mm stems are employed across the range.

With more travel and such aggressive geometry, the Remedy can be ridden harder, so Trek needed to make the bike stiffer. The Remedy and the Fuel us the new Straight Shot down tube, the massive, boxy down tube shaves a few grams and gives the front serious stiffness. But with the wide fork crowns of boost spacing forks they ran into clearance issues so to stop the crowns impacting the frame when the wheel turns right around, they came up with a headset that stops the rotation, ‘Knock Block’. In addition to the headset there are bumpers underneath the head tube area to further protect the frame.

The Knock Block headset prevents frame damage in a crash from bars and forks spinning around.
The Knock Block headset prevents frame damage in a crash from bars and forks spinning around.
Stiff front end for maximum rowdiness.
Stiff front end for maximum rowdiness.
Great tyres, suspension and a sturdy frame gives loads of confidence in the rough.
Great tyres, suspension and a sturdy frame gives loads of confidence in the rough.
Mino Link geometry adjustability.
Mino Link geometry adjustability.

The parts

The wide Bontrager Line rims, grippy XR4 tyres and big 35mm stem clamp give the Remedy a far tougher appearance than the 2016 model, these were the areas we upgraded our long term test bike last year, Trek are onto it!

A complete Shimano XT groupset is always a good sight, the 9.8 is covered in the stuff. The brakes are especially nice and Trek are using the I-Spec single handlebar clamp for the brake and shifter to keep the cockpit as neat as it can be.

RockShox Pike with 150mm of travel.
RockShox Pike with 150mm of travel.
Trek Remedy 9.8_LOW7332
One our most favourite tyres just got a whole lot better, the new XR4.

The 9.8 does have a double chainring, which isn’t our cup of tea but sure can come in handy on the longer climbs out there.


Riding

We spent a whole year aboard the hot green/yellow 2016 model 9.8 and after just a quick ride on this one we’re very impressed. It feels a whole lot more robust and the rear suspension feels more planted, and with the wide rims and insanely good XR4 tyres it feels great at speed.

Trek Remedy 9.8_LOW7530
The 150mm Remedy is a fun bike to ride, the 27.5″ wheels are happily thrown about and tipped into a corner.

With 29ers on either side of the Remedy in the Trek range with the 130mm Fuel and 160mm Slash, the 150mm travel Remedy is a bike that will enjoy a jump, drop, drift and a tight line on the trail.

Stay tuned for more as we get our hands on a Trek Remedy for a proper review.

Trek’s All-New Remedy and Fuel EX

Keeping secrets is hard. But for the past four weeks we’ve had to remain schtum about two great new bikes from Trek, which we had the pleasure of riding on the life-changing trails of Squamish, Canada. The experience of riding bikes like these, on trails like those, is something you want to broadcast from the rooftops, so bottling it up has been excruciating!

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Firstly, it’s our commandment that you go ride Squamish. Sell a kidney, leave your family, seek asylum – do whatever you need to do to get there. This little logging town might be somewhat overshadowed by the glitz of Whistler, but the trails are amongst the absolute finest we’ve ever ridden. It’s trail bike heaven – consistent climbs and mind-altering descents which seem to last forever – which made it the ideal terrain for us to slip the chain on Trek’s latest creations.

Speaking of which… allow us to walk you through the significantly altered Fuel EX and Remedy line-ups!

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Fuel EX Series

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Key points:

  • No more Fuel 27.5  (except for small and x-small sizes in women’s models)
  • Longer travel front and back
  • Significantly more aggressive geometry
  • Frame now stiffer than a frozen penguin

The Fuel EX has been the mainstay of Trek’s mountain bike line for yonks, and we’ve long been besotted with its smooth character and eagerness to bite off more than the average trail bike. However, in the last couple of years, Trek must have received some feedback that offering the Fuel in both 27.5 and 29er versions was getting a little confusing in the marketplace. As such, they made the call to go with the wheel size which they feel best suited the bike’s character: 29er.

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The Fuel EX 9.9 – a full tilt trail blitzer. 130mm travel, 29″ wheels, and far more aggressive than its predecessor.

We think it’s a good call. We’ve ridden both 27.5 and 29er versions of the Fuel extensively, and the sure-footedness and speed of the 29er is very appealing. Recent frame developments, like Boost hub spacing, have allowed Trek to make the Fuel 29er’s geometry a lot more playful too, so that aspect which we enjoyed about the 27.5″ Fuel now largely carries across to the 29er platform too. The only exception to this rule is to be found in the WSD (Women’s Specific Design) models of the Fuel, which have a 27.5-specific frameset in 14″ and 15.5″ frame sizes.

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The frame shapes are quite different to the older versions of the Fuel, including the sculpted head tube.

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While it won’t be making its way to Australia, Trek will also be offering the Fuel in 27.5+ format. (Apparently 29er Fuel sales are leagues ahead in Oz, we really like the big wheelers.) The 27.5+ uses the exact same frame as the 29er, just with a slightly longer-travel fork to correct the geometry. Trek see the Plus format as being more appropriate for intermediate level riders, and as such, they don’t offer a high-end version of the Fuel Plus.

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The DT skewer found on the EX9.9 is much cleaner than Trek’s original ABP axle. Note the size of the Eagle cassette – bigger than a 180mm rotor!

Travel across the Fuel range has been given a boost, up to 130mm at both ends (previously 120mm). While a 10mm increase doesn’t sound a lot, it is definitely noticeable on the trail. Also adding to the Fuel’s more up-and-at-em character is the use of 34mm forks across the line-up, whereas some models previously ran a slimmer 32mm noodle.

The new Fuel has more swagger and confidence than Jay-Z

But more so than the increase in travel, it’s the revised geometry of the Fuel that now lends it a more aggressive air. The head angle has been given a Xanax and it now settles in at a very relaxed 67-degrees. The Mino-Link geometry adjustment allows you to steepen things if you wish, up to 67.7 degrees. On the previous Fuel EX 29er, the head angle was 68.6 degrees, so the geometry is quite markedly different. In fact, the new Fuel’s geometry is very similar to that found on the current 2o16 Remedy.

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Mino link adjustment lets you choose either a 67.7 or 67-degree head angle.

In addition to the slacker head angle, the frame reach has been increased too, by an average of 5mm longer, and the chain stays have lost 3mm, to 433mm. That’s a lot of numbers; for the less numerically inclined, what it all means is that the new Fuel has more swagger and confidence than Jay-Z at the club.

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The Straight Shot down tube. Much stiff.

You can bet your first born that the Fuel will be getting pushed into some truly savage terrain, and so it’s lucky that frame stiffness has been jacked up to handle the demands. According to Trek, the next-gen Fuel is stiffer than the 2016 Slash. The key is the Straight Shot down tube (also found on the 2017 Remedy). Ask any engineer the lightest, strongest way to span two points and they’ll tell you to use a straight line, so that’s what Trek did. The massive, boxy down tube found on the Fuel shaves a few grams and gives the front end all the inflexibility of a climate change denier. Twisting is something you do on the dance floor, not on the trail.

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The new Fuel is crazy stiff. Don’t take out word for it? Then how about a bar graph?
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Here you can see both the new Control Freak cable system and the down tube bumper that serves as back up protection against the fork crown striking the frame.

In improving the frame stiffness, Trek did open up another issue however. With the extra width of the Boost fork crowns, and the extra girth of the downtube, clearance between the fork and frame became a problem. So Trek engineered a clever solution: the new Knock Block Frame Defense headset and stem. Again, the Knock Block is found on the Remedy too.

Essentially, the Knock Block system uses a small metal ‘stop chip’ bolted to the top tube that slots into a custom headset bearing cover and which prevents the headset from rotating past a certain point. In addition, the stem (and associated head set spacers) all have a ‘keyed’ arrangement that locks them together into the headset bearing cover too. The upshot is that your fork and shifters/levers are prevented from spinning round and smashing your frame in the event of a crash. Simple! In the extreme case you somehow snap the ‘stop chip’ off, the downtube also has a bumper to prevent damage. Phew. Should you wish to run a non-Bontrager stem, a specific headset spacer/adaptor is available to let you do so.

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The alloy-framed EX8 will retail for $4299 in Australia.

Australia will see the vast majority of the new Fuel EX Series headed to our shores, with prices starting at $2999 for the alloy-frame EX5, right up to $9999 for the truly special EX9.9 we had the pleasure of riding in Squamish.

WSD versions of the Fuel EX will be available in alloy (the EX8 pictured here, $4299) and the carbon EX9.8 ($6299)
WSD versions of the Fuel EX will be available in alloy (the EX8 pictured here, $4299) and the carbon EX9.8 ($6299)

Remedy Series

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Shred Monster. The new Remedy is a stellar all-mountain machine.

Key points:

  • All 27.5 – the Remedy 29 is gone
  • 150mm travel front and back
  • RE:Aktiv RockShox rear shocks
  • Slacker angles and longer reach
  • Same frame stiffness boosting measures as found on the Fuel

Just as Trek decided to simplify the Fuel lineup, they took a good look at the Remedy lineup and decided, “Dang, why don’t we just gosh darn get rid of the Remedy 29er?” And so, that’s what they did. From 2017, the Remedy will be available in 27.5 only. Given the success this bike enjoyed on the EWS circuit under Tracey Moseley and Justin ‘The Rake’ Leov, it’s a bit of a surprise to see the 29er go.

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Longer, slacker, stiffer, and more travel to play with too.
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For the first time, RockShox scores the RE:aktiv damper that was previously only found in FOX shocks.

The Remedy gets a jump in travel too, back up to 150mm front and rear. We say ‘back up’ because if you cast your mind back to the days of 26″ wheels you’ll recall the Remedy had 150mm travel then too. On the topic of suspension, the new Remedy also sees a new partner in Trek’s RE:aktiv shock technology, with RockShox now employing the regressive damping too – the Remedy 9.9 we tested was running a Monarch shock with RE:aktiv and we can report that it was fantastic. This is an interesting development, because Trek has a long history of developing custom shock technology with FOX, but not with RockShox.

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Burly 35mm forks up front across the Remedy range, with the Yari, Pike and Lyrik.

The fact the new Remedy is longer and slacker than its predecessor almost goes without saying – it’s head angle is now adjustable between 66.5 and 66-degrees. Reach has been pushed out quite a lot as well, by 11mm on a size 19″ (large) frame, and short 50mm stems are employed across the range. Braaaap, brrrraaap!

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Trek have introduced the Control Freak cable system across the range. It’s much nicer than their previous approach oh semi-internal routing.

As with the Fuel, the Remedy’s frame stiffness figures are higher than Charlie Sheen. With the employment of the new Straight Shot down tube and a Boost rear end, it now rivals the Session downhill bike for lateral stiffness. Pick a line, any line, and hold on.


Expanded Bontrager Components Line Up

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We like the simplicity and ease of service of the Drop Line post.

With the introduction of the new Drop Line dropper post, Trek’s in-house Bontrager components brand now has just about every item you could ever want to spec your bike with, and it’s all very good stuff.

The Drop Line post was on all the bikes we rode, and we think it’s a very solid contender in this crowded market. The post is air sprung, with a hydraulic cartridge, and is cable actuated. Adjustment is infinite, and it comes in the lengths with 100, 125 and 150mm of drop.

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Trek offer the Drop Line post with a great under-bar lever, or a shifter compatible lever too.

For us, the highlights include the very solid under-bar lever (an above bar lever is available for those running a left-hand shifter), the ease of servicing, and the fact that the cable is clamped at the lever end, not at the post (which makes life MUCH easier when install the post or changing the cable). In the muddy conditions we rode, we opted to pull down our post to give it a clean out at the end of the first day’s riding – an 8mm and 2mm Allen key were all the tools we needed, and the whole job took less than five minutes.

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Placing the cable with the head at the post end, makes setting up and installing/removing the post much, much easier than models with clamp the cable at the post.
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The Bontranger 35mm cockpit – there are carbon or alloy bar options.
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Note the keyed stem, to integrate with the Knock Block system.

35mm-diameter bars and stems are quickly becoming the norm, and Bonty are on board. Their new Line and Line Pro (carbon) bars and matching stems are lighter than the previous 31.8mm predecessors. The stems are, of course, compatible with Knock Block headset system too.

Apparently the 35mm bar/stem is no stiffer than the 31.8mm version, but it is lighter and stronger.
Apparently the 35mm bar/stem is no stiffer than the 31.8mm version, but it is lighter and stronger.
We cannot get over how good the Bontrager rubber is now!
We cannot get over how good the Bontrager rubber is now!

Bonty’s tyre range has surged ahead since Frank Stacy came on board, and we rate the XR3 and XR4 as amongst our top all-time tyres. The improvements have continued, and we could not fault the new XR4 or SE4 Team Issue rubber found on the Fuel and Remedy either. We’re looking forward to getting these tyres onto our home trails!


If there’s one thing we learnt on this media launch, it’s that Trek prefer riding to talking. Marketing chit-chat was kept to a bare minimum, letting everyone make the most of the stupendously good trails. Now you’ve heard all about Trek’s newest offerings, jump on over and read our first impressions about how the Fuel and Remedy perform on the trails!

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Long-Term Test Update: Trek Remedy 9.8 27.5

The Remedy comes in two wheels sizes, we went for the 27.5 one, it sits in between the 120mm travel Fuel EX and 160mm travel Slash. A real all-rounder with a buttery smooth rear suspension and relaxed geometry, it’s the type of bike that strikes a good balance between long and short travel. Perfect for travelling in search of new trails, not afraid of the rougher trails, and still efficient enough to keep up with the cross country bandits.

Coincidentally it’s the same bike that National Enduro Champion Chris Panozzo rides, although his goes much faster. Check out his unique build and setup here: Panozzo bike check.

We’ve been tinkering and modifying the Remedy from its stock spec, with a current weight of 12.6kg let’s take a look at what’s been going on under the hood of the ‘Pine Lime Express’.

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Hauling on Delatite, Mt Buller.

Front Suspension: 

The FOX Float 36 fork with its beefy legs is an uncommon sight at only 140mm travel, typically we’d see this travel category dominated by the FOX 34, with the 36 found on 160-180mm travel bikes. Not a bad thong at all though, it’s one of the stiffest steering front ends around, you really can put your weight over the forks and push them so, so, so hard.

The fork’s sensitivity isn’t the greatest though, especially when the rear suspension is smoother than butter melted on a silk tablecloth. A known trade for bigger diameter legs is increased surface area which often translates to more stiction, and being a non-Kashima level the fork on this bike does feel a little wooden when compared to the FOX 34 we reviewed recently.

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With a couple Air Volume Spacers fitted helps the fork feel more progressive.

We’ve fitted two air reducers in the spring side to add progressiveness to the stroke, the little plastic spacers are easily fitted but not supplied with the bike, we sourced them from FOX and popped them in to tune to our liking.

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Full Floater, fully plush.

Rear Suspension: 

Anyone who’s spent time on the Trek suspension bikes that use the Full Floater linkage system will agree, it’s one of the most sensitive and supple designs out there. After many years of Trek’s tight relationship with FOX they’ve been able to achieve the desired air spring that makes these bikes really tick without the need for their now superseded DRCV (Dual Rate Control Valve) rear shocks, the new large volume EVOL air cans on 2016 FOX Float rear shocks is exceptional.

The Remedy’s rear suspension is a system that certainly does require you to use the blue lever on the shock to your benefit, not in a bad way at all, it’s just so plush if you leave it open for anything but the descents it feels a little soft underneath you. To it’s credit, Trek’s proprietary RE:aktiv rear shock damper works so well in ‘trail mode’ that we spend most of our time in that middle setting, it’s still more sensitive to small impacts than your regular rear shock thanks to their unique damping system.

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Dwarfed by big mountains, Bright.

Shimano XTR and Di2:

The Remedy was lucky enough to be chosen for the ongoing review of Shimano’s super XTR Di2 electronic shifting and M9020 groupset. With the wheels and brakes also badged with the three letters that spell ‘oooooh, fancy’, the Trail series of XTR with its powerful brakes and wider rim wheels have been ridden hard.

There’s no doubt we’ll see more electronics in the future of mountain biking, Shimano are bound to trickle down the technology to lower price points like on the road cycling domain with Dura Ace and Ultegra, and SRAM mustn’t be far off with a mountain bike version of their wireless road cycling drivetrain, Red E-Tap. Electronics enable things to happen at speeds that are unachievable with hand, and wires can travel places gear cables cannot.

The shifting on this bike is exceptional, super precise and never have we needed to tune the gears, the battery lasts for months and on those trails where you are shifting gears under load nothing compares to the precision and consistency of XTR Di2.

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The Pine Lime Express, as we like to call it. Strikes a good balance between ‘trail’ and ‘all mountain’.
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Electrics, totally from the future.
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The wires travel inside the handlebar, tricky.

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While the Remedy doesn’t have any specific integration for the Di2 wires like some of the latest high end cross country bikes (Trek Top Fuel, Pivot Mach 4 etc) it’s turned out quite nicely. By using a couple of the rubber grommets and plugs that are supplied with the Trek road bikes specced with Di2 Ultegra or Dura Ace we’ve been able to make it look neat and secure.

One long wire travels from the rear derailleur through the chainstay and pops into view under the rear shock, then its back into the down tube where it exits alongside the rear brake and Reverb line before connecting to the computer. The battery is inside the fork steerer, made possible by the Pro Tharsis Di2 bar and stem.

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At home on Sydney’s iconic sandstone.

PRO Tharsis Trail Di2 cockpit: 

Nothing is neater than Di2 with internal wiring, and with Shimano’s component line working so close with Shimano on the dedicated cockpit, the result is the cleanest bike possible.

Click here to read our full review of the Tharsis Trail gear.

The Tharsis bar and stem take the Di2 to the next level, providing internal routing of the wire in through the bar and the battery inside the fork’s steer tube.

The bars were trimmed down from a whopping 800mm wide to 760mm.

C’mon that’s pretty darn neat, right?
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The wires travel into the stem and inside the bars.

Schwalbe Procore:

Schwalbe have successfully produced a very effective dual air chamber system for your wheels, in an effort to increase traction while reducing wheel damage and risk of flat tyres.

While it added 420g to the existing tubeless setup we had already, it’s been a super interesting test of an impressive product. We’ve been running between 10-14psi in the outer chamber and 75 in the inner chamber with great results.

We talk about Procore a lot, discussing its strengths and weaknesses, what bike it suits and what type of rider it will appeal to most. We’ll be delivering our conclusion soon!

Read our initial impressions and installation log here: Schwalbe Procore.

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The inner core of the Procore system, with 85 psi.
Finding traction in the loam of Derby.
Finding traction in the loam of Derby.
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The special valve can select and inflate the two air chambers by switching between them.
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It makes for a heavier wheel, but it has serious appeal and benefit.

Absolute Black Oval Chainring:

With an in depth review coming to Flow shortly, we’ve fitted Absolute Black Oval rings to both our Trek Fuel EX 9.8 27.5 and the Remedy.

It’s odd to ride at first, with a slightly lumpy feeling pedal stroke that is quickly forgotten about during the ride, but with more oval rings becoming popular, the benefits in the theory were worth exploring.

The chainring uses a narrow/wide tooth profile, and it’s all very secure, no dropped chains at all. But the XTR cranks don’t exactly match the black chainring so it’d better be worth it, or it won’t be on for long.

The word from Oval is: “Our Oval chainrings work because a rider does not produce power evenly through a pedal stroke; they maximise the part of the stroke where power is produced and minimise resistance where it isn’t. Oval rings make the spin cycle a lot smoother and are easier on legs while climbing. Believe it (or not), but a round chainring doesn’t transfer torque to your rear wheel as smoothly as an Oval one. You will actually feel your stroke to be more “round” with an Oval shape than with a round chainring.” – Oval.

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Chilling in the green room, Derby.

Ergon GE1 Slim Grips:

Left and right specific, and angled towards the edge to give your hands the best position for wider handlebars, the GE1 Slim Grip from Ergon is a real favourite here.

And the colours match.

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Stay tuned for more sightings of this great bike on Australia’s latest and greatest trails for many more months to come.

 

Flow’s First Bite: 2016 Trek Remedy 9.8 27.5

The best travel companions are fun, interesting and relaxed. But when it comes to bikes and not people to travel with it pays to be light, smooth and versatile, right?

It’s our pleasure to introduce to you our new Pine Lime Express – the 2016 Trek Remedy 9.8 27.5.

The second half of our Flow Nation fleet that joins the Trek Fuel EX 9.8 27.5, this 140mm travel carbon beauty is winning us over already after one week of enthusiastic ‘new bike frothing’ riding. We’ll be throwing this on the back of the car, and packing it in a box to fly and drive around as we feature our next season of must ride destinations.

Check out our Fuel EX 9.8 27.5 first impressions here: Flow’s First Bite: Trek Fuel EX 9.8 27.5.

We’ll be putting in a lot of miles on this rig, and it’ll be used to test a lot of parts but in the meantime let’s take a look at how it came out of the box.

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Remedy 9.8 27.5 for $6099.

Where does it fit in? With 140mm travel and fairly modest geometry, the Remedy sits just below the realm of the super-slack ‘enduro race bike’. It’s aimed to be ridden hard, but also isn’t going to shy away from flatter terrain, so to put the Remedy in a category we’d call it a big all-mountain bike.

There’s a near mirror of this bike with 29″ wheels available, same price, nearly the same spec just with 29″ wheels. We went 27.5″ for the fun of it, sure the 29″ may be faster but we’re not racing anyone.

It’s a well thought out bike, with nice features like a thinner rear tyre for less weight and faster rolling, the Mino Link little reversible chip in the rocker arm for geometry adjustment and frame protection underneath the down tube an on the sides of the seat stays.

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FOX and Shimano. It’s a FOX and Shimano show here (with a RockShox Reverb seatpost sneaking in there) and the new 11-speed Shimano XT gives the Remedy an enormous range of gears, via the new wide range cassette and double chainring setup. We can’t sing louder praise for this new groupset, hear our thoughts in our full review here: Shimano M8000 11-speed tested. 

The new XT is closer in performance to the premium Shimano XTR stuff than ever before, the brakes are so dialled and light under the finger and shifting is even more precise and solid to engage gears.

It does have a double chainring and front derailleur, we’ll be swapping to a single ring as we like the neater and less cluttered loop

A FOX 36 fork is not exactly a common sight on a bike of this travel amount, typically reserved for bigger 150mm+ bikes the big legged 36mm diameter legs look huge on the front of this bike and sitting down at 140mm travel its going to be amazingly stout when ploughed into rocks, woohooo! We reviewed the older version of the FOX 36 at 160mm on the front of a Norco Range, check that review out here. FOX 36 review. But with the new FIT 4 damper and a regular 15mm quick release axle, the new version is more user friendly and feels extra supple.

RE:aktiv: Out the back the FOX rear shock uses Trek’s proprietary RE:aktiv with a 3-position damper. But the DRCV (Dual Rate Control Valve) dual air spring system has gone from the 2016 range due to the new FOX EVOL large volume air can giving the bike its targeted spring rate curves and suppleness.

We’ve ridden the RE:aktiv damper a few times, and it sure does remain active and supple whilst in trail and climb mode, breaking away the instant a bump hits the rear wheel. We find ourselves riding in the middle rear shock setting a lot, which keeps the shock riding high in its travel and with less wallowing, but thanks to the fancy damper it still takes a hit without spiking harshly.

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The FOX/Trek RE:aktiv damper keeps things firm yet sensitive.
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Chunky legs up front! A FOX 36 fork at only 140mm.

The other bits. Bontrager make up the majority of the cockpit components and the tyres. A big 2.4″ XR4 up front is a great sight, we’ve been huge fans of this exact tyre for a couple years now, the big volume and tacky tread wins us over every corner.

You could dress it up, or down. The Remedy is the bike we want for exploring new trails, it blurs the lines between an all-round trail bike and a hard hitting enduro machine with the ability to go either side really well.

If only the Remedy was available from their cool Project One custom paint job and spec program, this is a bike that we’d love to have as our own but we’d probably just select this colour and build with Shimano XTR Di2 anyhow… Did we say Di2? Stay tuned.

Justin Leov – Staying ahead in the Enduro World Series

Preparations for Samoëns couldn’t really have gone much better for me. I’ve had plenty of good riding in Finale both on and off road and temperatures have been in the mid to high 30’s every day so it’s been great for getting used to the heat.

EWSSMNS15_leov_By AleDiLullo-9694Family life has also been great with Tory and Luca settled into our apartment and getting into the Italian way of life. We have had the opportunity to experience a Sagra in the village and plenty of local experiences of both food and culture.

So leaving for France I was in a good head space and excited to be back into the Alps on the longer more demanding courses. These are typically my favourite courses of the series and my preferred racing format for Enduro.

The weather was looking good once we arrived but forecasts suggested we could be in for a thunder storm or two over the weekend. From previous time spent in the Alps I’ve experienced this all too well and knew what to expect. It was going to be important to have both dry and wet weather eyewear ready to go at all times. I’ve been caught out without the right eyewear before and it can be a costly mistake so I had my Roll Offs, ID2 goggles with the dual lens to handle the cold or hot conditions and my Evil Eyes Evos all setup ready on standby for what ever was going to be thrown at us.

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Being able to walk only one stage of the course this year was a new aspect to this style of racing for me. The stage we walked would be raced without a practice so again a new format which would be an interesting challenge.

I felt a bit rushed actually when race day one came around. I’d spent the day before running about the town getting organised and the day seemed to disappear quicker than expected. Actually finding stage 3 to walk took longer than planned and then hopping into bed knowing I needed to be at the pits at 7:15am was all a bit rush rush rush. I was running a million miles an hour in my head and sleep wasn’t coming, one of those nights you wished to have an on/off switch.

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Up early for the first day of racing and on the lift for a practice run on stage one. This would be a physical and demanding course, but I was excited as it would be a tough one on the body and serious time could be made. A totally dry course which had rocks, roots, fast and slow sections a real mix. Looking at the sky it was black and temperatures just started to drop…I knew what was coming!

Yet before I left the pits for race stage 1 the rain started and as we were half way up the gondola ride the lift was shut down as thunder and lightning began. Waiting in the lift when you see that kind of activity around is always a bit of a nervous time. They won’t run the lift until the storm clears and you could be waiting a long time. We were lucky this time and within 10 minutes we were away again and the sky looked like the storm would be passing soon and fine weather would follow. A bit of a course delay would also hold up things so to get everyone through the day, one stage was cut from the race.

Dropping into stage one I started on the attack. The roots in the dry were slippery and having not practiced in the wet there were some bits you needed to hold on for. I felt really good and my run was going to plan when I came to a wooden bridge which prior to an uphill section. As soon as my wheels touched the bridge I knew I was going to crash and I hit the ground hard. My saddle was twisted and I had to knock that back straight before taking off again. Due to this bring before an uphill section I had no speed and was forced to run it. Now the heart rate was on red line and I needed to be fast and clean for the rest of the run. Coming out of the woods for an open section of grass there was a helicopter picking up the injured rider that had been our course hold. It was extremely windy and the course tape and grass was blowing everywhere. Slightly distracted for a second wondering what was happening I misjudged the next corner and could see I was either going to clip the marker pole or go through the tape. Aiming for the pole I hoped to shoulder it and carry on but it jammed between my forks and bars and I was thrown over the handle bars and onto the ground. Getting up I noticed my stem and bars were twisted so I kicked the front wheel to try straighten it out. Nothing with the first two kicks, and the third buckled my front wheel so I jumped on and tried to finish the run with it twisted. I was gutted, it was almost impossible to ride and I was a lot further from the finish than I thought. I didn’t hear a rider catching me coming into the finish but Jerome had caught me and he was third off so that meant I had lost a minute!!!

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Riding back to the pits I was totally gutted, my weekend had gone from hero to zero on the first stage! I needed to ride fast in every stage now and there was no chance to crash again, and the body was feeling the effects of the tumbles. I pressed the reset button and went up for a practice on stage 2. This was a shorter more DH style stage, I really liked the dropping turns and it was a lot of fun to ride. You needed big brakes and clear vision on this one! With the sun now out again the conditions were also improving and it would be less slippery for the race so things were looking up!

The heat had returned for stage 2 race. On the line it would have been around 30 degrees and I was keen to push on for a fast run. Things went to plan and crossing the line I had put in a solid stage to finish 4th. This was a much better effort this time but still some work to do.

Now onto stage 3 this was a 40min ride from the pits with no lift access to the start; this was the stage we walked yesterday. To be honest it was a stage I knew would be my weakest link for the weekend, it had some fun sections but I knew it wouldn’t be a race winning stage for me. Being 1.9km in length I planned to ride it smooth and not let a mistake cost me with any crashes.

Dropping in things were going well but I was braking too much and fighting the bike in sections. Hitting my rear derailleur on a tight switchback corner didn’t help either and now I had only had the biggest gear to deal with. Entering the main rocky area I braked quickly as there was someone on course walking up! With everyone yelling at her I actually thought she was trying to stop me as a rider has fallen. Not the case, she didn’t know I was on course and soon jumped off. I finished out the run disappointed in my stage and losing another 11 seconds. What a day!!!

Going into day two I was sitting 17th overall and I had the series lead slipping from my grasp. My goal now was to attack and try get some positions back. If I could get closer to the top ten then maybe I could keep the series lead and that was my principle motivation for day two.

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Stage 4 was a longer stage, a good mix again of everything and very freshly built. It would be a stage to push on but also one to respect as the tight switch back corners would be hard to ride on the limit without a moment or two. I set off smooth and made sure to be slow enough for the danger bits. One small misjudgment and I couldn’t slow the bike down enough to make a corner….not crashing but I went through the tape. I pulled the bike back on course and didn’t lose a lot of time. The rocks were coming out of the corners and the blown out lines were hard to push on without risking a lot. Another corner caught me out and this time my front wheel pushed and down I went. I was up super fast and able to finish the run without any more problems. I was able to still put in a top ten finish for the stage so with one more to go I needed to keep up the pace but be on two wheels!!

Stage 5 was a middle length stage and I liked the style a lot. Fast, some great rocky sections and a lot going on. I hit my lines all the way down and put in a good effort to be clean. Another top ten finish but not what I had hoped. I’d certainly fought some battles this weekend and came out second best a few times so to see I had at least pulled myself back to 12th overall was something positive to take away. Richie Rude put in an impressive ride to take his first overall victory so I was stoked for him, and I knew he would be getting closer to me in the series points. A quick math calculation would reveal I had managed to keep the series lead by 40 points so that was another positive for me to take away.

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Heading to Colorado it’s going to be some exciting weeks of racing coming up. France you have been a tough one to me!!

Fresh Product: Trek, The World’s Biggest Bike Brand Unveil 2015 Range

Trek claim to be the biggest bike brand in the world. Together with their accessories subsidiary Bontrager, Trek reportedly spend the most money within the industry in the pivotal area of research and development.

Looking at these claims, it would be an easy conclusion to make that Trek’s products should be well ahead of the game. Recently, Flow attended Trek’s interplanetary 2015 launch – Trek World – to find out just what this extensive funding and research has led to for their 2015 line-up.

[divider]Fuel EX series [/divider]

Trek World may be the official launch of Trek’s 2015 range, however new products have been trickling into Trek dealerships for months now. One of these early releases for the year was the Fuel 27.5. The Fuel used to be an outstanding 26 inch trail bike before it was given the bigger wheel treatment only two years ago, and Trek’s return to giving consumers a smaller wheel option came about after an outcry of public support for a 650b option.

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The Fuel EX 27.5 rides a lot like the older Flow favourite, 26″ Fuel EX. Flickable, fun and generally looking to play more with the trail than its 29er brother. If you’re looking for a trail bike that’s fun to ride, can be thrown around a bit more than the mile-munching 29er and you’re not worried about lap times at the local XC course, the Fuel EX 27.5 is worth a look.

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The Fuel EX range is in serious contention of being one the best trail bike range out there. Seriously, these bikes are amazing! Flow rode the 9.8 $5899 pictured here in volt green colour (available in both wheel sizes), a Shimano equipped Fuel EX and it’s managed to be even more impressive than Trek’s 2014 offering.

The major difference for this year’s model is the all new RE:aktiv rear shock, designed in conjunction with Penske Racing Shocks, the suspension gurus involved in Formula 1, NASCAR, and Indy racing. Put simply, this new suspension design incorporates ‘regressive damping’- where there is no compromise between low speed compression damping and high speed compression damping. The aim is to allow the shock to react to quick imposts, whilst retaining a firm pedalling platform to resist unwanted suspension bob. Leaving what would be a complicated description aside, the shock rides really, really well. On the first ride, the shock gave us so much confidence, especially coming into sections of the trail at high speeds and knowing your suspension is capable of handling the rough stuff, and climbing through chattery trails where the suspension performed exactly right, allowing the focus to be on the trail, not the bike.

The Fuel EX is available in both 27.5″ and 29″ wheels starting at $2799. The Fuel EX 9.9 29er below, is a real stunner for $9499.

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[divider]Slash 9.8 [/divider]

Another key announcement at Trek World was the introduction of a carbon Slash 9.8. Trek have totally re-vamped the Slash range, aiming to increase their share of the booming all mountain/enduro market. The Slash features new beefy Bontrager Maverick wheels, which follow the new pattern of ultra-wide rim profiles, a Sram XO1 groupset, Bontrager 750mm wide carbon bars, Stealth Reverb dropper post and Shimano XT brakes. Adding to this excellent spec, Trek have decided to use the RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 rear shock (with piggyback reservoir), and… the RockShox Pike up front! This bike is seriously well-specced, and comes in at just under $6K, completely busting apart the myth Trek can’t produce well specced bikes at low prices. We’ll expect to see this lightweight shredder by the end of October.

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So how did it ride? The bike felt light whilst climbing and through singletrack, with 160mm of travel being provided at just 12.6kg. Whilst this was the case, even with the fork dropped down into the travel with the Two-Stage adjuster the bike still felt a little reluctant climbing at anything more than a steady, social pace. As climbing like a cross country racer is not key focus for this bike it’s definitely to be expected to a degree, but it’s surprising that with the fork dropped to 130mm, consequently steepening the head angle, the bike still felt a little uncomfortable smashing through Stromlo switchback after Stromlo switchback with its slack and relaxed angles.

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Descending, and negotiating tricky trails. That is what this bike is all about. When you point this bike downhill, it goes where you want it to. Through rock gardens, no problems, the RockShox suspension and Maverick wheels will handle that. Steep sections, no worries, the geometry is great for hanging right off the back and nailing the vertical stuff. This is such a capable bike that it was underdoing it riding on the generally buff and smooth Stromlo trails. It was begging for a trail made of sterner terrain. The downhill tracks were an adequate match for this bike, and it soaked up the high speeds, rough stuff and frequent flyer miles with aplomb. The only criticism that we had in our time on the bike when analysing its descending capabilities is that it takes a bit more prompting when popping off trail features, or jumping over a section of the trail. Don’t worry, it’s just a simple trade-off, the bike gobbled up hard landing and felt stable in the air landing where you expected it to.

[divider]Remedy series [/divider]

For the Remedy 29 in 2015 we see wider hub spacing for bigger tyres and increased chainring clearance, as well as an all new carbon frame – used for the top end 9.8 and 9.9 models. Trek have labelled the wider hub spacing only on true 29er ‘Boost148’, and claim that this move leads to a stiffer wheel as well as more tire and chainring clearance. Both the Remedy 29 and 27.5 switch to Sram 1x drivetrains for the higher end models in the series (9 and above).

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Continuing with the dominance of Sram as a theme of this year’s models, Trek have decided to move away from Bontrager wheels with the higher end models and use the highly praised SRAM Roam wheels. The top carbon model, the 9.9, reportedly weighs in at 11.9kg at $9499. That is seriously impressive weight for a big travel 29er!

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[divider]Superfly series[/divider]

The Australian World Cup racing duo of Dan McConnell and Bec Henderson’s bike of choice – the Trek Superfly hardtail, are a mainstay of the Trek line-up. With the help of Gary Fisher, Trek have dialled in the geometry of these bikes to create quick handling and lively XC weapons. One change for the 2015 frame was to shorten the chain stays to further quicken the handling of the bike in the turns. In making this adjustment, the bottom bracket was lowered slightly, making the bike more stable at higher speeds. Other than these slight tweaks the frame hasn’t changed, but the spec of some models has been increased at no suffering to the retail pricing.

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For example the Superfly 9.6, the cheapest carbon Superfly, still comes in at under $3000 but is now equipped with Bontrager’s tubeless ready Mustang wheels! Loving it! Again, as seen across all the mountain bike range, Trek have chosen to use Sram 1x drivetrains on the higher end models.  Pictured here is the Superfly 9.8, $5399, due August with the SL frame (super light carbon layup and slightly different shapes).

Another point worth mentioning is the ‘Smarter Wheelsize’ approach to frame size versus wheelsize that Trek are taking for some of the lower end hardtails. The smaller frame sizes will use 27.5″ wheels, whilst 17.5″ frame sizes and above will come equipped with 29″ wheels.

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[divider]Trek Session[/divider]

In 2015 Trek have gone the 27.5″ route with their downhill weapon. The bike sports 210mm travel and longer chainstays for better high speed control. Another upgrade from the 2014 model is the full carbon EVO link that drives the rear shock. The carbon used in the Session is not a weight saving measure primarily, but a way in which to add strength to the frame. Judging by Brook MacDonald’s resurgence as a world cup force and Neko Mullaly emerging as a rider to watch in the future, this bike is obviously very capable, and very fast.

 

So there you have it. Trek truly have delivered some epic bikes for 2015, with great new technologies like the RE:activ rear shock, the carbon Slash and the introduction of 1x drivetrains across a number of models. After trying the new models for ourselves, we here at Flow think we’ll be seeing a few of these highly colourful bikes out on the trail!